KC boasts “the best barbecue in the world”

U-News Staff

Kansas City is famous for its barbecue restaurants, but choosing the best of the best can prove a difficult task. With restaurants like Arthur Bryant’s, Gates’, Fiorella’s Jackstack and Oklahoma Joe’s, residents and visitors have plenty of options when indulging in summer barbeque.

 Gates Barbeque, a local favorite:

Gates’ is a Kansas City original, established in 1946 by George and Arzelia Gates, and has remained local since. The atmosphere is very casual, featuring dim but attractive lighting and historic pictures on the walls. Customers are greeted by employees upon entry with a “Hi, may I help you?” Though the welcome is pleasant, Gates’ layout can be confusing to newcomers. 

The restaurant is divided into separate lines for customers dining-in and those ordering takeout, which is confusing upon first entry. The ordering process is the same for both – the menu is overhead and customers can watch the cooks prepare meals from where their order is placed. The process is reminiscent of a fast food restaurant, but guests dining-in are offered assistance from the lobby attendant.

Gates’ has three signature barbecue sauces: the original, extra hot and sweet and mild. Customers can sample each, and all three sauces are available for purchase at the restaurant and in stores around the Kansas City area.

Gates’ is best known for its sauces and homemade side dishes, but the ribs are also a favorite. However, the food is affordable, the atmosphere is comfortable, and the locally established restaurant experience is worth having.


Oklahoma Joe’s, ‘a place to eat before you die:’

In a 2008 trip to Kansas City, Travel Channel chef Anthony Bourdain said Oklahoma Joe’s is “the best barbecue in the city, which makes it the best barbecue in the world.” Bourdain included Oklahoma Joe’s on his list of “13 places to eat before you die.”

The restaurant has been featured on numerous local television segments, and nationally on CBS ‘Sunday Morning’ and Bourdain’s program, “A Cook’s Tour.”

Oklahoma Joe’s was established in Kansas City in 1996 by Joe Don Davidson and his partner Jeff Stehney. There are two locations, one inside a gas station at County Line and Mission road in KC, Kansas. The other is located off of Strangline and 119th in Olathe, Kansas.

Oklahoma Joe’s is known for having some of the best fall-off-the-bone ribs in the world, and incredibly long waiting times to dine. The ribs have been described by visitors as “tender, but not greasy with perfect seasoning.” On any given day, the line to enter the restaurant may wrap all the way around the building and continue once guests are inside, but veteran visitors say it is worth the wait.

The food is moderately priced, and for what Bourdain called “the best barbecue in the world,” dinner at Oklahoma Joe’s is worth waiting for.

 Jack Stack

A Kansas City favorite by many, this local franchise has been around since the late 50’s. With their award winning sauces and mouthwatering side dishes such as the Hickory Smoked Baked Beans, this KC staple is sure to fulfill your BBQ needs.

The restaurant features many dining options including one location where customers have the choice to eat in the kitchen. Other dine-in as well as carry-out options are available.

Jack Stack, voted Most Popular Restaurant in Kansas City by the 2011 prestigious Zagats Survey of Americas Best Restaurants, features certified Angus beef and pork as well as a full list of desert and drink options.

With four Kansas City locations, Martin City, Downtown, Overland Park, and the Plaza, Jack Stack is able to ship nationwide.

Recently, Jack Stack has received media coverage especially on the Food Network and Travel Channel. Modern Marvels on the History Channel introduced Jack Stack to the rest of the world in 2006 with their feature episode on famous BBQ cook-offs.

Crispy yet delicate fries, tender meats, and freshly toasted buns are what make this Kansas City favorite worthy of all the rave reviews. A visit to KC would not be complete without a delectable Jumbo (choice of two meats and tangy sauce held together in a sesame seed bun) from Jack Stack.

Arthur Bryant

Probably the most well-known BBQ restaurant by out of towners, this down town Kansas City restaurant has been thriving since the 1930’s.

Arthur Bryant’s is so well-known that its regulars include not only people from the community, but also movie stars, musicians and U.S. Presidents, who come to Kansas City to try what’s considered the “Best BBQ in the United States.”

With the ability to choose between beef, chicken, lamb, and ribs, Bryant’s has an option for everyone. The cafeteria method also helps with quick dining and makes the meal more cost effective.  Although the staff may not walk around with smiles on their faces, the BBQ makes up for this below par service.

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